The Six Schools of Witchers

By Theo Noble

In Season 2 of The Witcher, we’ll see Kaer Morhen and meet the remnants of the once-powerful Wolf Witcher guild. You’ll note I said, “Wolf” Witchers. The Wolves are only one of three Witcher schools in the books, with another three more in the games,

1. School of the Wolf

These are all that remain of the School of the Wolf in 1264. The Wolves are considered the generalists of the Witchers. They wear medium armor with no focus on any major field of study. When people think “Witcher” they’re probably thinking of Wolves. Wolves normally increase their ranks through the Law of Surprise, as Geralt did with Ciri. The Wolves are located in Kaer Mohren, Kaedwen.

Verily, there is nothing so hideous as the monsters, so contrary to nature, known as witchers for they are the offspring of foul sorcery and devilry. They are rogues without virtue, conscience or scruple, true diabolic creations, fit only for killing. There is no place amidst honest men for such as they. 
And Kaer Morhen, where these infamous beings nestle, where they perform their foul practices, must be wiped from the surface of this earth, and all trace of it strewn with salt and saltpetre. 

Anonymous, Monstrum, or Description of the Witcher

Kaer Mohren is now a ruin, destroyed by a mob. The school of a hundred or so Witchers, with more apprentices and a few mages, were slaughtered. The mob wasn’t just angry peasants though, as the walls of Kaer Mohren were breached by magic and spells.

2. School of the Cat

The second school to be met in the series are the Cats. Every stereotype and evil bias against Geralt most likely comes from the Cats. They were based south of the Yaruga river in Stygga Castle. Interestingly, they have counted Elves and Women amongst their ranks, which makes them unique amongst Witchers.  However, they haven’t adjusted as well in the modern-day as the Wolves. When the Cats were forced out of Stygga, they reformed in the Dyn Marv Caravan, traveling place to place, where they still made witchers.  Many of their ranks have taken to assassination or mercenary work, and general crime.

Their mutations have not always gone over well, at least in comparison to the Wolves. They specifically worked to strip the emotions of their Witchers, which made them seem alien and strange. However, a change in formula led to too many emotions, producing unstable and often violent Witchers, such as the lovely chap Brehen (Seen above with a sword at a woman’s throat). The Cats wear light armor and are renowned for their speed, even compared to witchers.

3. School of the Gryphon

The Gryphons, also called the Griffins or Eagles (the first translation I read said Gryphons, so that is the name I will be using) are considered the most “Knightly.”  The most magically skilled of the Witcher family, the Gryphons lived in Kovir, in the far north.  Most of the history of the Gryphons is located in the Witcher Role-Playing game, and thus its entire canon is questionable, so take what we know about the Gryphons with a grain of salt.

The Gryphons are most like their predecessors, the “Order of Witchers,” an organization formed by kings with the goal of producing an elite anti-monster Knightly Order.  Think of them as magical Teutonic Knights. The Order was disbanded, but the group of Witchers that most fit the Order’s original ideal is the School of the Gryphons. The Gryphons were not destroyed by a mob, but rather an avalanche. A group of mages destroyed the keep using an avalanche when they were denied the use of Gryphon’s library. 

The only known living Witcher of the Gryphons is Coën, pictured above, who is living with the Wolves.  Those who played the Witcher 1will remember The Raven, a legendary Witcher who was a Gryphon.  The most famous is probably George, who was named after Saint George the Dragonslayer of Catholic legend.

4. School of the Viper

A preface – The rest of the Witcher schools mentioned will not appear in the show, but many will seem recognizable to players of the game

The Vipers are the world experts on the Wild Hunt.  This will become more relevant in the later seasons, but the Aen Elle Elves are a big deal.  Ignoring the Elven sages, the Vipers probably know the most about the magic of traveling from plane to plane.  However, the group has fallen on hard times recently, as all Witcher groups have. Under threat of destruction, Emperor Emhyr var Emreis has been using the Vipers as assassins in the prelude of the Third North-Nilfgaard War.

5. School of the Bear

The School of the Bears has confused origins.  The Bears seem to come from the Amell Mountain Range, possibly the Slopes, as stated by the TTRPG, though their influence lies mainly in Skellige.  The TV show may introduce the Bears to viewers when Geralt walks along the slopes.  However, most agree that the Bears are very “skelligan,” known for their coarse language and ferocious strength, as our friend Gerd, pictured above, can attest.  They seem to have had relations with the Dwarves and Gnomes of the Amell mountains, judging by how the bears wear plate armor strong enough to block blows from monsters.

Bears seem to be the only school that wears true steel plate, not relying on their agility and boiled leather alone to protect them.  The bears also use crossbows in their hunts, and their flamberge style steel blades are useful for parrying the weapons of men, while their heavy silver blade is used more for “hack and slash” than for parrying.

6. The School of the Manticore

We probably know the least about the Manticores.  They’re masters of poison and seem to originate far to the east, beyond Zerikania.  The poison is fitting, seeing as how mythological Manticores are venomous as well.  Ironically, the one Manticore Witcher we met had a problem with “poisons,” with him having an alcohol addiction. 

The meta reason is for nostalgia.  The Manticore Armor is the starting armor of Witcher 1, and this armor was introduced in the Blood and Wine DLC.  The DLC is mainly about nostalgia.  Toussaint is the land of fairy tales and a home for Geralt.  The Vineyard provides him a chance to finally relax.  Old friends are there for him to get closure and be at peace.  Aerdonight, the most powerful silver sword of the first Witcher game, and the Manticore armor are callbacks, signaling that the story ends as it began.

Published by The Second Stylus

The Editor

%d bloggers like this: